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Bob Dylan 2001.04.20 in Kearney

Subject: Kearney Review
From: Scott Bauer
Date: 21 Apr 2001 06:43:49 -0700

    Safe inside the Tri-City Arena, a newly built hockey arena with
seating for 5,000, a hard rain began hitting the metal roof at showtime.
The machine-gun fire staccato of the rain continued as the lights
dropped at 7:40 p.m.

    Over the PA, Bethoven's 9th symphony raged on as the band assembled
on stage. The crowd jumped to its feet. Dylan shuffled on, wearing a
black suit and bolo tie, looking a little lost. The symphony continued.

    Then the all-familiar announcement, ``Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome, Columbia recording artist -- BOB DYLAN!''

    The chords of ``Somebody Touched Me'' filled the air and the crowd
began rhytmically moving to the music.

    Dylan was in Kearney.
    Kearney is a college town of sorts smack dab in the middle of
Nebraska. Farm country. No one of any note has ever played a live
concert here.

    It was no surprise the local media was out in force, interviewing
people outside the arena and filling newspapers in the days leading up
to the show with less-than-accurate articles about the man on stage.

    Dylan was not as animated as he had appeared at his previous
Nebraska appearance in Omaha last year, but he was far from asleep at
the wheel. As the show progressed Dylan's aggressive stabbing of his
guitar at the audience, crouching so low until he's almost sitting on
stage, and the occasional smile, all made an appearance.

    After the opening number fans on the floor remained standing as
Dylan launched into a beautifully country-esque ``It's All Over Now Baby
Blue'' and the familiar ``Desolation Row.''

    Security was lax as folks unfortunate enough to be stuck in back
made their way up front. The fans were not aggressive; just enjoying the

    An early highlight of the set was ``Just Like a Woman,'' another
familiar song made fresh by Dylan's rephrasing. The crowd responded in

    ``Things Have Changed'' appeared a bit rough and I would not be
surprised if it disappeared from the set list soon. Fresh from the Oscar
win, Dylan appeared to be bored with the tune and rushed it.

    The middle section of the concert lagged a bit with old familiar
tunes ``It Ain't Me Babe,'' ``Masters of War,'' ``Tangled Up in Blue''
and ``Memphis Blues'' treading little new territory.

    But it picked up again with ``The Wicked Messenger,'' one of those
songs that a couple years ago you never would have imagined hearing
live, especially in Kearney, Nebraska.

    After the obligatory stand and stare at the audience routine
following ``Leopard-skin Pillbox Hat,'' the band returned for the normal
run of encores. ``If Dogs Run Free'' made a welcome appearance as did a
thoroughly enjoyable ``Knockin' on Heaven's Door.'' Dylan again made the
song sound like it was the first time he had ever played it. Definitely
a highlight.

    Finally after a little more than two hours he wrapped it up with
``Rainy Day Women.''

    Considering the brief but intense tempest that hit at the beginning
of the show, the song was a fitting ending -- even if it has nothing to
do with weather.

    The crowd roared for more, but Dylan's bus was alread on the road
heading for another joint. In this case, Topeka.

    During our drive back to Lincoln (two hours to the east) we passed
the two buses carrying Dylan and his band mates. Now I can say that I
passed Dylan on Interstate 80.

    His entourgae turned south at York, Nebraska, where we happened to
be stopped at a gas station for refreshments. The buses did not stop.
After all, Dylan had a date with the good folks in Kansas before
returning to Nebraska for a Monday night show at the same arena he last
played in 1966 with the Band.

    Pershing Auditorium is still standing after all those years, just
like Dylan. I suspect he will rock the joint just like he did 35 years
ago, but this time the audience will have a better idea of what is

2001: February - March - April -